IT DEPLOYMENT TO OVERCOME ANOMALIES
SHABBIR H. KAZMI
Aug 2 - 8, 2010
One of the serious problems facing economic managers in Pakistan is spending higher than the budgeted amounts. Mostly, this irregularity is condoned by attributing over spending to ever-rising inflation rate. However, the root cause is lavish spending because those responsible for making budget have no clue, whatsoever of movement of prices in the global as well domestic markets and the lust for money of those responsible for purchases is on the rise. The most disappointing role has been of Public Accounts Committee (PAC). With the nomination of Ch Nisar Ali, also the leader of opposition it was expected that the situation will improve but PAC may have made a few moves, but mostly disappointed the public.
Even a cursory look at the annual accounts of state owned enterprises show declining sales, rising costs, massive financial expenditures and blatant disregard to procurement rules and nepotism and favoritism is omnipresent. All this happens because of the absence of record of the past purchases. Though, the e-government initiatives and computerization of key departments had started nearly two decades ago, non-availability of requisite file and absence of latest data is most common.
Wapda and KESC have been sending computerised bills for decades but getting the latest information about a customer is almost impossible. The most contentious issue faced by these utilities is transmission and distribution losses, bulk of which is nothing but outright theft. However, the utilities have not been able to catch the pilferers. Monitoring of units received, dispatched and billed clearly shows the level of pilferage. Regular inspection of the sites can help in finding out the variation in approved load and actual consumption. However, this exercise can only be done when the data about approved load is available.
Accounts of utilities show billions of rupees as receivable. However, hardly any amount could be recovered because details about consumers are not available. Personal data of consumers is outdated, meter numbers hardly match and despite identification of the defaulting consumers connection just can't be disconnected because of mismatch of information. Interestingly, when receivables crosses certain limit, a new meter is installed and record of old connection is destroyed.
While KESC now takes pride in claiming that if a consumer does not pay the bill for a few months, supply is disconnected. However, many of the consumers were amused to read a news report that one of the federal ministers has not paid electricity bill for six years.
According to a news report, speakers at a moot called for investment in acquiring new IT technologies which would help produce power generation. In his key note address at the conference on "SAP-enabled Business Transformation in Pakistan's Utilities Sector", organised by SAP & Abacus Consulting, Tahir Basharat Cheema, Managing Director, Pakistan Electric Power Company said that recourse to new technologies has become urgent for the utilities, particularly when the country is faced with severe power crisis.
Basharat said: "There is a need for the electricity utility companies to invest in acquiring new IT technologies and processes along with increasing the generation capacity to improve management and curtail operational cost." He was also of the opinion that the power crisis is considered to be the worst of the four such crises the nation has faced since 1974-75 and utilities have to plan to face it.
Hassan Latif Jamal, Country Head of SAP Pakistan, said his company was a leading provider of software to electricity generation and distribution companies globally. SAP empowers over 1,600 utility companies including 275 plus power generation units globally with industry best practices to achieve operational efficiency including enterprise asset management, grid maintenance, and energy management to name just a few.
Asad Ali Khan, President Abacus Consulting, said that with SAP's comprehensive suite of applications for utilities sector, integrated with global best practices and Abacus Consulting's diverse experience, major utilities companies can optimise key end-to-end business processes. He was of the opinion that utilities can achieve key business goals like improving employee productivity by optimising processes for workforce; talent management; maximizing energy efficiency; financial excellence; operational excellence and superior customer value.
Asad said: "SAP enables utilities companies to respond rapidly to changes in this dynamic environment, be flexible enough in supporting a variety of technologies and help utilities companies to offer innovative and personalized customer-focused services in the future".
Karachi Electric Supply Corporation (KESC) and Abacus Consulting executives jointly shared the SAP ERP success story. SAP ERP went live at KESC in March 2009 as part of the company's efforts to achieve business transformation.
Tabish Gauhar, CEO KESC shared his experiences, lessons learned and useful information regarding challenges associated with implementing an integrated top tier solution across the enterprise.
Lately, the State Bank of Pakistan is especially focusing disbursement of credit to the agriculture sector. To facilitate the banks credit insurance scheme is also being followed. However, the quantum of defaulted loans is on the rise. It is a matter of grave concern that the farmers having acquired loan from Zarai Taraqiati Bank Limited (ZTBL) have not paid the dues despite lapse of 5 to 14 years. The recoverable amount including mark-up and penal mark-up stood at Rs107.453 million. It is also on record that the ZTBL also bore a loss of Rs41.658million, non-recovery of Rs7.480 million seasonal loans, non-recovery of loan Rs1.551 million due to disbursement against forged documents and non-recovery of Rs23.746 million on account of misutilised tractors/tube wells loans.
In brief, it is known to all and sundry what are the issues and also what are the solutions available. However, the resistance against deployment of technology is exerted by those who are corrupt and know well that recording of data and its scrutiny can put them in hot waters. For how long these bloodsuckers will remain free? The sooner they are rounded up the better it will be for the country.